Ruth Hopkins Sums Up.

Putting Oil CEO Kelcy Warren on a Parks & Wildlife Board is ludicrous. Its like giving Darth Vader a spot on the Jedi Council.”

Yep. Who better to be a steward of wild spaces? Think Progress has the full story.

Climate Change, Now A Witch Hunt!

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has come to Exxon’s defense — again. AP Photo/Eric Gay, File.

Climate change, why it’s a witch hunt, it is, for real and true! What this is actually about is protecting Exxon, with republicans going full court testerical over the issue, claiming the usual excuse, freeze peach.

Citing Exxon Mobil’s right to “free speech,” 11 state attorneys general — all Republicans — filed in court this week to stop an investigation into the oil and gas giant’s decades-long history of climate denial.

The attorneys general — from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin — filed a brief to support Exxon’s request to stop the so-called “Exxon Knew” investigation, arguing that there is a “public policy debate” over climate change and that the investigation is an “unconstitutional abuse” of power.

“The Constitution was written to protect citizens from government witch-hunts such as this one, where officials use their authority and the threat of criminal prosecution to try and suppress speech on a viewpoint they disagree with,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time Texas has intervened in the investigation on behalf of the state’s largest company. Paxton and his counterpart from Arkansas filed on behalf of Exxon in May of last year when it challenged a Virgin Islands subpoena. Paxton has said the investigations are “ridiculous.”

Think Progress has the full story.

Also see:

The Earth just passed another carbon threshold.

Climate change will fuel terrorism, report warns.

Dow Chemical gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, now wants pesticide risk study buried.

National Parks: WPA to 2050.

What America’s National Parks will look like by 2050 if we fail to act against climate change.

Hannah Rothstein has taken some of the iconic WPA (Works Progress Administration) National Parks Posters, from 1938 to 1941, and updated them to 2050 and a catastrophic future if we do not act on climate change. It’s a striking and effective way to get the message across, because the art and legacy of these posters is so well known, and they are beloved by many people. The WPA posters were a message and invitation to weary, beaten down people dealing with the Depression, that there were wonders, come and see! They were a promise of hope, of a better future. Now we have too many people who are actively denying climate change, or apathetic about it, little realizing that yes, it will most certainly impact them, and not in a good way. These re-worked posters are as brilliant as the originals, reminding people that if we choose to not act, we are inviting the harbingers of doom. These are a call to action, and I hope they start popping up all over the place.

You can see all of the posters, and purchase an original or fine art print here.

Via Raw Story.

Dakota Access Allowed to Keep Risks Secret.

© Marty Two Bulls.

It’s not enough that the pipeline went through, and once again, drinking water is threatened (which is fine, of course, because Indians), but ETP can now keep risk information to themselves. Just keeps getting worse. And to those people who think they are helping through vandalism? You aren’t, so fucking stop it.

Despite concerns that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline could threaten the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux, a federal judge ruled that the pipeline’s developer can keep some information about spill risks secret from the public.

The ruling — which would permit Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the pipeline, to keep information about spill risks at certain points along the pipeline shielded from the public — comes after unknown protesters used a torch to burn holes in empty above-ground segments of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes had argued that information about spill risks could potentially strengthen their case for more environmental review of the project.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected that argument, saying that shielding the information from public view would prevent vandalism of the pipeline.

“The asserted interest in limiting intentionally inflicted harm outweighs the tribes’ generalized interests in public disclosure and scrutiny,” Boasberg said in his ruling.

[…]

Pipeline spills in North Dakota are not uncommon — according to analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity, North Dakota has averaged four pipeline spills a year since 1996, costing more than $40 million in property damage.

Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the Environmental Protection Agency would face sharp cuts in its enforcement programs, limiting its ability to enforce and penalize companies that violate environmental laws. When pipeline operators, for instance, violate laws like the Clean Water Act by spilling pollutants into waterways, the EPA is normally the agency that imposes fines on those operators. Last week, for instance, the EPA and the Department of Justice issued a fine against a pipeline operator in Ohio that violated the Clean Water Act by discharging approximately 1,950 barrels of gasoline from a pipeline into nearby waterways.

Think Progress has the full story.

The Edinburgh Remakery.

Here’s a grand undertaking, and one desperately needed all over the place. We have become so accustomed to living in a consumer driven throwaway manner, and even when people want to be thrifty, or would prefer to fix something, there’s often no option to do so.

The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise that teaches repair. The shop sells refurbished computers and furniture, and hosts workshops where people can come along and learn how to repair their own things. There’s a big vision behind it: “we want to generate a repair revolution. This means changing the way people use and dispose of resources, encouraging manufacturers to build things to last and to be fixable, and making sure the facilities are in place to allow people to repair and reuse.”

Films for Action has the full story.

“ I feel it’s important to have hydrocarbons equally represented.”

CREDIT: Independence Institute.

I, uh, uh, oh gods, there’s so much wrong here, that it … oh, wrong, wrong, wrong. Along with the wrong, the co-opting of phrases expressing specific concepts has been turned into a rotten, fermenting word salad crawling with maggots. I, oh. I sincerely hope that no artists participate in this travesty.

One thing Earth Day celebrations have been lacking is a recognition of fossil fuels — at least according to the Independence Institute, a self-described “action tank” based in Colorado that receives funding from a litany of prominent conservative dark money groups.

“Enviros celebrate by planting trees but they never celebrate the trucks that deliver the trees, or the gas that powers that truck, or the plastic handles of the shovels they use,” an email from the organization reads. “Shouldn’t Mother Earth be thanked for making Earth Day events possible?”

Budding artists are encouraged to send their original works in by April 21 with the main requirement that it “should showcase the awesomeness of fossil fuels.”

I can’t even. Just can’t. Think Progress has a full breakdown on the monies backing this monstrous reality denial.

Amy Cooke, executive vice president and director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute, has been critical of Colorado’s renewable energy standard, arguing that clean energy sources should be expanded to include clean coal, natural gas, hydroelectric power, and nuclear. Late last year, Cooke was named to the Trump administration’s EPA “landing team,” and wrote of her excitement for the future of the EPA under Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt (both have been clear about their intent to cripple the agency, slashing its budget and immediately gutting policies to fight climate change).

Cooke told ThinkProgress that the organization’s fossil fuels art contest is rooted in inclusivity. “Fossil fuels seem to get left out of the Earth Day celebration,” she said via email. “As an energy feminist — pro-choice in energy sources — I feel it’s important to have hydrocarbons equally represented.”

Fossil fuels get left out of Earth Day celebrations because they have a lot to do with destroying the earth, habitats, species, poisoning water and so forth, you godsawful excuse for a person. “Energy feminist.” “Pro-choice in energy sources.” Okay, I have to get past my overwhelming desire to smack her.

In regard to Independence Institute’s donors — and their history of working against climate action — Cooke avoided specifics. “In general, people and organizations support us because of the work we do including being energy agnostic,” she said. “We encourage innovation instead of over regulation. It’s actually kind of liberating because we aren’t boxed in by an either-or cynical choice paradigm.”

“Energy agnostic”. Uh huh. Oh you’re boxed in, alright – all you want is destruction. Jesus Fuck.

Full story at Think Progress.

Cool Stuff Friday.

spirited

Spirited Away. Chihiro eats an onigiri.

If you’ve never been to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, out in the Western suburbs of Tokyo, now would be a good time to plan your trip. The museum is planning an upcoming, year-long special exhibition that will focus on the many food-related scenes from all of Studio Ghibli films.

Meals and food play an incredibly important role in almost every Studio Ghibli film. In Laputa, Pazu splits his egg on bread in half and shares it with Sheeta. By doing so, the two become closer. In Spirited Away, Chihiro eats an onigiri and gains the courage to face her uphill struggle. In Howl’s Moving Castle, the characters become like family when they surround a dinner table over a meal of eggs and bacon.

Taberu wo kaku (which roughly translates to Drawing Eating) begins May 27, 2017 and will be on view through May 2018 so you’ll have plenty of time to see it. The exhibition will be largely separated into 2 sections – one on eating and one on cooking – and will detail the many ways Studio Ghibli animators brought their foods to life.

Via Spoon & Tamago.

Designer Mark Noad.

Designer Mark Noad.

The triggering of Article 50 last week means that Brexit is a certainty – and that the UK will need a new passport. Luckily last week also saw the judging for our unofficial Brexit passport design competition… here is a look at the nine proposals shortlisted by our judges.

We received over 200 entries from 34 different countries. The youngest entrant was 12 years old and the oldest was 83. Most submissions were from architects and designers but there were also entries from non-designers, students, retired people and unemployed people. Below are the nine designs that most impressed our judges ahead of the announcement of the winner on 11 April: [Click on over to see all the finalists, or watch the video below.]

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Images are by Achilleas Souras and Alessandro Paderni.

Artist Achilleas Souras used hundreds of discarded life jackets to assemble an igloo for Moroso’s SOS Save Our Souls installation at Milan design week.

The 16-year-old, who has already shown a similar igloo at the Maritime Museum of Barcelona, used jackets collected from the shores of Lesbos – the Greek island that has become a regular landing place for refugees entering Europe.

While his first igloo used 52 jackets, his SOS Save Our Souls structure is made from 1,000 abandoned garments. Souras cut and folded the jackets to resemble blocks of ice before assembling them together.

The resulting waterproof structure is intended as both a shelter and a welcome point for arriving migrants.

“The refugee crisis was simply a set of numbers on the news,” said the artist, who was born in London and now resides in Barcelona.

“But when I picked a jacket up, it stopped being just material. When you hold the jacket in your hand and you smell the sea, you look at things through a different prism and you realise that every jacket represents a human life.”

“The refugees, the homeless, and the less privileged cannot be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ anymore,” added Souras, who hopes his igloos could eventually be used in rescue operations.

“These are global issues that affect us all, and we must try to solve them for everyone’s sake.”

You can see much more here.

The National Park Stunt.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, holds up a check during the daily briefing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, holds up a check during the daily briefing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

First, another photo distraction. Look at Zinke eyeballing that check – he looks like he’s about to lunge, grab it and run. The National Park stunt, it’s bullshit, so don’t swallow it. The Tiny Tyrant needed a distraction from the set of Damocle’s Swords hanging over his head, so this little stunt was staged. And it is quite little – $78,333 to the National Park Service. Given that his ideal budget strips the NPS, among many others, this is an empty gesture, and worse. Neither Trump nor Zinke give one tiny squirtle of a shit for land. They are both in favour of more pipelines, poisoned water, coal mining, strip mining, fracking, drilling for oil in protected reserves, and wholesale pollution. This tiny little check of a photo op is toxic bullshit of the highest order. While the Tiny Tyrant could not possibly care less about caring for our planet, there is one thing he sorta kinda cares about, battlefields. Yep. So incredibly important to maintain historic battlefields! What’s more important than the reminders of bloody slaughters?

…And as far as his donation, it falls well short of the cuts Trump himself would impose on the National Park Service’s supervising agency, the Interior Department.

Trump’s budget calls for a punishing 12 percent cut to the department, which manages the United States’ public lands. It would eliminate some of the department’s programs altogether, including the $13.2 million National Wildlife Refuge Fund and the $20 million funding for the nation’s 49 National Heritage Areas. It would also decrease funding for land acquisition — such as land that would be added to the nation’s national parks, and then stewarded by the NPS — by $120 million.

Zinke, in his remarks thanking the president, said he would put the money towards the department’s $229 million shortfall in maintenance of the United States’ historic battlefields. According to Spicer, Trump chose to give the money to the NPS himself, specifically because he was interested in restoring the battlegrounds.

“It’s a decision he made. Counsel presented him with several options. He believed… some great work is being done there, especially work being done to restore our great battlegrounds,” Spicer said.

Right. Fuck you, Trump. Think Progress has the full story.

Killing Ourselves Harshly.

(Brian Gratwicke, Fickr).

(Brian Gratwicke, Fickr).

That is a Striped Blenny, a popular aquarium fish. Also known as a Fang Blenny. There are a number of different types, and they have exploded into a different kind of popularity, outside of aquarist circles. Blennies defend themselves with a venomous bite. The venom doesn’t kill, but it does get the potential predator woozed out on opiones, so the Blenny can make a quick get away. The venom has intrigued medical researchers, particularly those who want to come up with a painkiller which actually works, and doesn’t have such heavy addiction potential. Sounds good so far, right? There’s something of a problem though – the natural home of Blennies is The Great Barrier Reef, which is dying an all too rapid death from bleaching. This is a reminder of just how little we actually know of our planet, or of all the potential benefits to ourselves are out there, right now, but we’re very busy killing off so many different types of habitats, we are killing ourselves.

So the fang blenny’s potential isn’t just blue-sky thinking; there’s a very real and somewhat straight path for studying this opioid to make it useable as a pharmaceutical.

The number one hurdle is the health of the Great Barrier Reef, where these fish live. There’s an immense amount of unknown diversity in ecosystems around the world disappearing at unprecedented rates due to climate change, and the GBR is fragile among these. Current policies of both the Australian and American governments don’t bode well for slowing climate change and preserving nature to its full potential to help us.

Here’s the key thing: a better opioid is worth tens of billions of dollars. The best source of inspiration for new pharmaceuticals is nature, and that’s what we are destroying for a few million or even hundred million in the short term.

The reality is that the economic argument for conservation vastly outweighs the economic argument for destruction.The fang benny populations are declining as the reef gets bleached and destroyed, and with it goes millions of years of perfecting potentially life-savings drugs for our use.

Full story here.

Also see: Putin thinks Russia will benefit from climate change and communities will ‘adjust’.

Tin Cap Time.

1477417057308

The Heartland Institute recently had their “Fuck the Planet!” conference, attended by the Mercers, and all those others who have some sort of vested interest in killing off everyone and everything. I guess they’ll bug out to Mars with Musk when life becomes unsustainable.

The atmosphere was buoyant at a conference held by the conservative Heartland Institute last week at a downtown Washington hotel, where speakers denounced climate science as rigged and jubilantly touted deep cuts President Trump is seeking to make to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Front and center during the two-day gathering were New York hedge fund executive Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, Republican mega-donors who with their former political adviser Stephen K. Bannon helped finance an alternative media ecosystem that amplified Trump’s populist themes during last year’s campaign.

The Mercers’ attendance at the two-day Heartland conference offered a telling sign of the low-profile family’s priorities: With Trump in office, the influential financiers appear intent on putting muscle behind the fight to roll back environmental regulations, a central focus of the new administration.

The Washington Post has a full run down on the conference.

I’ll just focus here on the batshit element of such conferences, this time, embodied by ever loony Lord Christopher Monckton:

Raw Story has a rundown of his 5 main points, so click on over if you prefer to read.

The Farce That Is “The Wall”.

Ryan Zinke (Twitter).

Ryan Zinke (Twitter).

Just when you think rethuglicans really could not possibly go lower or more regressive, *bam*. Ryan the fink Zinke has a problem with the stupid wall – placing it on U.S. land would cede the Rio Grande, oh no wtfbbq!!!11!1 The solution? Doesn’t seem to be one right now, outside of making sure endangered animals are endangered right into extinction. It seems the only way to keep the Rio Grande would be to either steal land from Mexico, or build it on Mexico’s land and claim it for uStates. Or something. Jesus Fuck. There’s that Colonial mindset at work.

E&E News reports that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talked about the logistics of building a border wall while speaking at an event held by the Public Lands Council this week, and he said the Trump administration didn’t want to build the wall on American soil because it would mean ceding the entire Rio Grande river to Mexico.

“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” Zinke said. “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”

Zinke didn’t elaborate on how the wall would get built if it wasn’t located on America’s side of the Rio Grande or in the middle of the river, which implies that it would be built on the Mexican side of the border.

Elsewhere in his talk, E&E News reports Zinke said the Trump administration will seek a waiver to the Endangered Species Act so it can build the wall in jaguar habitats that are for now protected from “destruction or adverse modification.”

Via Raw Story. And, Ryan fucking idiot Zinke has now said there’s no such thing as clean energy. Nope.